Matthew Ryan

May Day

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Drawing on such influences as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, and John Cougar Mellencamp (not to mention Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen), folk-rocker Matthew Ryan showed a lot of potential on his debut album, Mayday. The native of Chester, PA. (near Philadelphia) was 25 at the time, but this is such a mature, emotionally honest effort that one got the impression he'd done more living than usual during his 25 years. Ryan's voice is rough and has a very lived-in quality that proves most appropriate on such tales of loss, disappointment, and hurt as "Watch Your Step," "Chrome," and "Lights of the Commodore Barry." There isn't a lot of hope or optimism here; Ryan obviously didn't hesitate to let some of his darker feelings flow when he went into the studio to record this album, which is as pessimistic as it is soulful, moving and personal.

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